Once again, the Broncos are playing musical chairs at quarterback. As Denver travels to face the Raiders, it'll be second-year pro Paxton Lynch starting, with Brock Osweiler expected to be inactive after playing the past three weeks (Lynch, Osweiler, and Trevor Siemian have each now spent time at first, second, and third on the depth chart). This is clearly the right move for the 3-7 Broncos. With this season cooked, it's time to find out what you have in your first-round talent before potentially re-entering the QB market this offseason.
Last year, Lynch was mediocre in two starts, and he lost the starting job competition to Siemian before being sidelined with a preseason shoulder injury. But expectations are still high for the 23-year-old, especially considering the second-year leap taken by 2016's two other first-round selections, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz (fair or not, the comparisons are coming). Fortunately for Lynch, he gets to face the league's worst pass defense in Oakland, according to Football Outsiders, before taking on the 31st-ranked Dolphins. He reportedly also will have a more streamlined game plan to work with now that Bill Musgrave has replaced Mike McCoy as offensive coordinator.
Head coach Vance Joseph isn't tied to Lynch, having come in with the QB already on the roster, but Lynch's play is somewhat of a referendum on general manager John Elway, who traded up in the draft to grab the Memphis product. If the young thrower doesn't show promise over the next month, it could leave the front office scrambling for a solution at the position while what has been a championship defense seems to whither away. Peyton Manning is not walking through that door.
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LATER TODAY ON THE MMQB: Andy Benoit previews the Thanksgiving slate ... Peter King has Hall of Fame thoughts in his mailbag, and also a Thanksgiving Special podcast ... We pick the games... and more. Stay tuned.
1. The 2018 Hall of Fame semifinalist list, announced Tuesday, is headlined by Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, and Brian Urlacher. Current 49ers GM John Lynch is also up for induction. Gil Brandt ranked all 27 semifinalists.
2. In Miami, Barry Jackson spoke with several current and former Dolphins players about their opinions on CTE and the NFL. “I don’t know what this game will look like in 20 years but I do believe people will be playing football," tight end Julius Thomas said. "How it’s played, that’s a whole other story.”
3. "We're only going to do walk-throughs this week," Washington coach Jay Grudensaid Tuesday. "We don't have really enough guys to go 11-on-11 right now." His team is preparing to face the Giants in the middle of a three-games-in-12-days stretch. Meanwhile, New York could use its eighth offensive line combination in 11 games after right guard D.J. Flukerhurt his toe Sunday.
4. 2015 first-round pick Shaq Thompson has finally broken through as part of a deep Panthers linebacking corps. He's done it by basically becoming a slot defender. “He’s not just a stiff linebacker that can’t guard anybody,” tight end Ed Dickson said. “You won’t have matchup problems like you would usually with other teams.”
5.Ken Norton Jr.is out as Raiders defensive coordinator. Oakland is currently last in the league in takeaways and sacks. John Pagano will now be asked to change that, and fast.
6.Joe Gibbs has some regrets about how much of his life he dedicated to football. "I sat down with both my boys a few years back,” Gibbs said while promoting an upcoming documentary on the former Washington coach. “I said, ‘Don’t do what I did.’ . . . It’s the one thing that I’ll go to my grave second-guessing."
7. Bears fans, here's the good news: Jordan Howard is back to his historically bruising (bruisingly historic?) ways. He recently tied Matt Forte and Gale Sayers, getting to 2,500 scrimmage yards faster than any other Chicago back. And the bad news? Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd is going to be out for a while, if not the season, with sprained ligaments in his right knee.
8. Here's an interesting theory: could high ticket prices be hurting the Cowboys on the field?
9. Chip Scoggins makes the case that the Vikings offensive line is the most improved position group in the NFL this year. They've gone from Minnesota's fatal flaw in 2016 to the "strength of our football team," in the words of coach Mike Zimmer.
10. The Falcons waived cornerback Jalen Collins, a 2015 second-round pick who is coming off a 10-game PED suspension.
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No, Kirk Cousinsdid not elbowRussell Westbrook in the face. I'm sure this'll be a topic of conversation when he and DeMarcus sit down at the Thanksgiving table.
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